Plate

Altar from Treves

A deity (Esus) fells a tree in the foliage of which a bull's head appears, while three cranes perch on the branches (Tarvos Trigaranos). The bas-relief thus combines the subjects of two sides of the altar from Notre Dame (Plate XX).

thumb. Culdub from the sid stole the food of the Feinn on three successive nights, but was caught by Fionn, who also followed a woman who had come from the sid to obtain water. She shut the door on his thumb, which he extricated with difficulty; and then, having sucked it, he found that he knew future events.20 In another account, however, part of his knowledge came from drinking at a well owned by the Tuatha De Danann.21

Folk-tale versions of Fionn's youth resemble the literary forms, with differences in detail. Cumhal did not marry, because it was prophesied that if he did he would die in the next battle; yet having fallen in love with the king's daughter, he wedded her secretly, although a Druid had told the monarch that his daughter's son would dethrone him, wherefore he kept her concealed — a common folk-tale incident. As his death was at hand Cumhal begged his mother to rear his child, but it was thrown into a loch, from which it was rescued by its grandmother, who caused a man to make them a room in a tree and, to preserve the secret, killed him. When the boy was fifteen, she took him to a hurling-match, and the king, who was present, cried, "Who is that fin cumhal ('white cap')?" The woman called out, "Fin mac Cumhal will be his name," and again fled, this being followed by the thumb incident with the formula of Odysseus and the Cyclops, in which a one-eyed giant is substituted for Finneces. Later, Fionn fought the beings who threw down a dun which was in course of construction and for this obtained the king's daughter, while the heroes killed by these beings were restored by him and became his followers.22 Scots ballad and folk-tale versions contain some of these incidents, but vary much as to Cumhal. In one he goes to Scotland and defeats the Norse, and there sets up as a king; but Irish and Norse kings entice him to Ireland, persuade him to marry, and kill him in his wife's arms. His posthumous son is carried by his nurse to the wilds, and then follows the naming incident and that of hi—12

the thumb of knowledge, though here Black Arcan, Cumhal's murderer, takes the place of Finneces and is slain by Fionn on learning of his guilt from his thumb. Lastly Fionn obtains his rightful due.23 His birth incident and subsequent history is an example of the Aryan "Expulsion and Return" formula, as Nutt pointed out, and is paralleled in other Celtic instances.

In the Boyish Deeds of Fionn Cruithne became Fionn's wife, but in other tales he possesses other wives or mistresses. In the Colloquy with the Ancients his wife Sabia, daughter of the god Bodb Dearg, died of horror at the slaughter when Fionn's men fought Goll and the clanna Morna.24 An Irish ballad also makes Dearg's daughter mother of Oisin, while a second daughter offered herself to Fionn for a year to the exclusion of all others, after which she was to enjoy half of his society; but he refused, whereupon she gave him a potion which caused a frenzy.25 Sabia, Oisin's mother, is the Saar of tradition, whom a Druid changed into a deer. Spells were laid on Fionn to marry the first female creature whom he met, and this was Saar, as a deer, though by his knowledge he recognized her as a woman transformed. He afterward found a child with deer's hair on his temple, for if Saar licked her offspring, he would have a deer's form; if not, that of a human being. She could not resist giving him one lick, however, and hair grew on his brow, whence his name Oisin, or "Little Fawn." Many ballads recount this incident, but in one the deer is Grainne, whose story will be told presently,26 although elsewhere she is called Blai.27 Another divine or fairy mistress of Fionn's could assume many animal shapes, and hence he renounced her. Mair, wife of Bersa, also fell in love with him and formed nine nuts with love-charms, sending them to him that he might eat them; but he refused and buried them, because they were "an enchantment for drinking love." 28 Another love-affair turned Fionn's hair grey. Cuailnge, smith to the Tuatha De Danann, had two daughters, Miluchradh and Aine, both of whom loved Fionn. Aine, however, said that she would never marry a man with grey hair, whereupon Miluchradh caused the gods to make a lake, on which she breathed a spell that all who bathed there should become grey. One day Fionn was drawn to this lake by a doe and was induced to jump into it to recover the ring of a woman sitting by the shore; but when he emerged, she had vanished, and he was a withered old man. The Feinn dug down toward Miluchradh's sid, when she appeared with a drinking-horn which restored Fionn's youth, but left his hair grey, while Conan jeered at his misfortune.29 One poem offers a partial parallel to the incident of Cuchulainn and Conlaoch, without its tragic ending. Oisin, angry with his father, went away for a year, after which father and son met without recognition. Fionn gave Oisin a blow, and both then reviled each other until the discovery of their relationship, when the dispute was happily settled.30

Fionn's hounds, Bran and Sgeolan, were nephews of his own, for Illan married Fionn's wife's sister Tuirrean, whom his fairy mistress transformed into a wolf-hound which gave birth to these famous dogs. Afterward, when Illan promised to renounce Tuirrean, the fairy restored her form.31

Fionn's adventures are mainly of a supernatural kind — combats with gods, giants, phantoms, and other fantastic beings, apart from those in which he fought Norsemen or other foreign powers, an anachronism needing no comment. On one occasion Fionn, Oisin, and Caoilte came to a mysterious house, where a giant seized their horses and bade them enter. In the house were a three-headed hag and a headless man with an eye in his breast; and as they sang at the giant's bidding, nine bodies arose on one side and nine heads on the other, shrieking discordantly. Slaying the horses, he cooked their flesh on rowan spits, and a part, uncooked, was brought to Fionn, but was refused by him. Then a fight began, and Fionn wielded his sword until sunrise, when all three heroes fell into a swoon. When they recovered, the house had van-

ished, and they realized that the three "phantoms" were the three shapes out of Yew Glen, which had thus taken revenge for injury done to their sister, Culenn Wide-Maw.32

In The Fairy Palace of the Quicken-Trees (Bruighean Caor-thuinn) Fionn defeated and killed the King of Lochlann, but spared his son Midac, bringing him up in his household. Midac requited him ill, for he chose land on either side of the Shannon's mouth, where armies could land, and then invited Fionn and his men to the palace of the quicken-trees, while Oisin, Diarmaid, and four others remained outside. Presently Midac left the palace, when all its splendour disappeared, and the Feinn were unable to move. Meanwhile an army arrived, but Diarmaid and the others repulsed it after long fighting; and he released Fionn and the rest with the blood of three kings.33 In a folk-tale version the blood was exhausted before Conan was reached, and he said to Diarmaid, "If I were a pretty woman, you would not have left me to the last," whereupon Diarmaid tore him away, leaving his skin sticking to the seat.34 The house created by glamour in these stories, and vanishing at dawn, has frequently been found in other tales.

The Feinn were sometimes aided by, sometimes at war with, the Tuatha De Danann, though in later tales these seem robbed of much of their divinity, one story regarding them almost as demoniac. Conaran, a chief of the Tuatha De Danann, bade his three daughters punish Fionn for his hunting. On three holly sticks they hung hasps of yarn in front of a cave and reeled them off withershins, while they sat in the cavern as hideous hags and magically bound Fionn and others who entered it. Now arrived Goll, Fionn's former enemy, and with him the hags fought; but two of them he halved by a clean sword-sweep, and the third, after being vanquished, restored the heroes. Afterward, however, when she reappeared to avenge her sisters' death, Goll slew her and then burned Conaran's sid, giving its wealth to Fionn, who bestowed his daughter on him.36 Goll is here deemed a hero, as in many poems which lament his ultimate lonely death by Fionn, after a brave defence. In these Goll is superior to Fionn, and he was the popular hero of the Feinn in Donegal and Connaught, as if there had been a cycle of tales in these districts in which he was the central figure.36

Fionn also fought the Muireartach, a horrible one-eyed hag whose husband was the ocean-smith, while she was foster-mother to the King of Lochlann. She captured from the Feinn their "cup of victory" — a clay vessel the contents of which made them victorious — but after a battle in which the King of Lochlann was slain, the cup was recovered. The hag returned, however, and killed some of the Feinn, but Fionn caused the ground to be cut from under her and then slew her.37 This hag, whose name perhaps means "the eastern sea," has been regarded as an embodiment of the tempestuous waters; and in one version the ocean-smith says that she cannot die until she is drowned in "deep, smooth sea"—as if this were a description of the storm lulled to rest. When she is let down into the ground, the suggestion is that of water confined in a hollow space;38 and if so, the story is a romantic treatment of the Celtic rite of "fighting the waves" with weapons at high tides.39

While the King of Lochlann is associated with this hag, he and the Lochlanners are scarcely discriminated from Norsemen who came across the eastern sea, invading Ireland and capturing Fionn's magic possessions, his dogs, or his wife. Yet there is generally something supernatural about them; hence, probably before Norsemen came to Ireland, Lochlann was a supernatural region with superhuman people. Rhys equates it with the Welsh Llychlyn — "a mysterious country in the lochs or the sea" — whence Fionn's strife would be with supernatural beings connected with the sea, an interpretation agreeing with the explanation of the Muireartach.

Once Fionn, having made friends with the giant Seachran, was taken with him to the castle of his mother and brother, who hated him. While dancing, Seachran was seized by a hairy claw from the roof, but escaped, throwing his mother into the cauldron destined for him. He and Fionn fled, pursued by the brother, who slew Scachran, but was killed by Fionn, who learned from his thumb that a ring guarded by warriors would heal him who drank thrice above it. Diarmaid obtained the ring, but was pursued by the warriors, whom Seachran's wife slew, after which the giant was restored to life.40 Other stories record the chase of enchanted or monstrous animals. Oisin slew a huge boar of the breed of Balor's swine, which supplied a week's eating for men and hounds; but meanwhile Donn, one of the side, carried off a hundred maidens from Aodh's sid. Aodh's wife, secretly in love with Donn, changed them into hinds, and when he would not return her love, transformed him into a stag. In this guise he boasted that the Feinn could not take him, but after a mighty encounter, Oisin, with Bran and Sgeolan, slew him.41 In another tale a vast boar, off whom weapons only glanced, killed many hounds; but at last it was brought to bay by Bran, when "a churl of the hill" appeared and carried it away, inviting the Feinn to follow. They reached a sid where the churl changed the boar into a handsome youth, his son; and in the sid were many splendours, fair women, and noble youths. The churl was Eanna, King of the sid, his wife Manannan's daughter. Fionn offered to wed their daughter, Sgathach, for a year; and Eanna agreed to give her, saying that the chase had been arranged in order to bring Fionn to the sid. Presents were then given to him and his men, but at night Sgathach played a sleep-strain on the harp which lulled to slumber Fionn and the others, who in the morning found themselves far from the sid, but with the presents beside them, while it proved that the night had not yet arrived, an incident which should be compared with a similar one in the story of Nera.42 This overcoming of the Feinn by glamour and enchantment is a common episode in these stories.

Allusion has already been made 43 to the Tale of the Gilla Dacker and his Horse (Toruighecht in Ghilla Dhecair). After the horse had disappeared with fifteen of the Feinn, Fionn and his men sought them overseas and reached a cliff up which Diarmaid alone was able to ascend by the magic staves of Manannan. He came to a magic well of whose waters he drank, whereupon a wizard appeared, fought with him, and then vanished into the well. This occurred on several days, but at last Diarmaid clasped him in his arms, and together they leaped into the well. There he found himself in a spacious country where he conquered many opposing hosts; but a giant advised him to come to a finer land, Tir fo Thiunn, or "Land under Waves," a form of the gods' realm, and there he was nobly entertained, the wizard being its King, with whom the giant and his people were at feud, as in other tales of Elysium its dwellers fight each other. Meanwhile Fionn and his men met the King of Sorcha and helped him in battle with other monarchs, among them the King of Greece, whose daughter Taise, in love with Fionn, adored him still more when he slew her brother! She stole away to him, but was intercepted by one of the King's captains; and soon after this, Fionn and the King of Sorcha saw a host approaching them, among whom was Diarmaid. He informed Fionn that the Gilla was Abartach, son of Alchad, King of the Land of Promise, and from him Conan and the others were rescued. Goll and Oscar now brought Taise from Greece to Fionn, and indemnity was levied on Abartach, Conan choosing that it should consist of fourteen women, including Abartach's wife; but Abartach disappeared magically, and Conan was balked of his prize.44 This story, the romantic incidents of which are treated prosaically, jumbles together myth and later history, and while never quite forgetting that Tir fo Thiunn, Sorcha, and the Land of Promise are part of the gods' realm, does its best to do so.

Several other instances of aid given by the Feinn to the folk of Elysium occur in the Colloquy with the Ancients. The Feinn pursued a hind into a sid whose people were Donn and other children of Midir. When their uncle Bodb Dearg was lord of the Tuatha De Danann, he required hostages from Midir's children, but these they refused, and to prevent Bodb's vengeance on Midir, they sought a secluded sid. Here, however, the Tuatha De Danann came yearly and slew their men until only twenty-eight were left, when, to obtain Fionn's help, one of their women as a fawn had lured him to the sid, as the boar led Pryderi into the enchanted castle.45 The Feinn assisted Midir's sons in next day's fight against a host of the gods, including Bodb, Dagda, Oengus, Ler, and Morrigan's children, when many of the host were slain; and three other battles were fought during that year, the Feinn remaining to assist. Oscar and Diarmaid were wounded, and by Donn's advice, Fionn captured the gods' physician and caused him to heal their wounds, after which hostages were taken of the Tuatha De Danann, so that Midir's sons might live in peace.46 Caoilte told this to St. Patrick centuries after, and he had scarce finished, when Donn himself appeared and did homage to the saint. The old gods were still a mysterious people to the compilers or transmitters of such tales, but they were capable of being beaten by heroes and might be on good terms with saints. Even in St. Patrick's time the side or Tuatha De Danann were harassed by mortal foes; but old and worn as he was, Caoilte assisted them and for reward was cured of his ailments.47 Long before, moreover, he had killed the supernatural bird of the god Ler, which wrought nightly destruction on the sid, and when Ler came to avenge this, he was slain by Caoilte.48 Thus were the gods envisaged in Christian times as capable of being killed, not only by each other but by heroes.

Sometimes, however, they helped the Feinn, nor is this unnatural, considering Fionn's divine descent. Diarmaid was a pupil and protege of Manannan and Oengus and was aided by the latter.49 Oengus helped Fionn in a quarrel with Cormac mac Art, who taunted him with Conn's victory over Cumhal; whereupon Fionn and the rest forsook their strife with Oengus (the cause of this is unknown), and he guided them in a foray against Tara, aiding in the fight and alone driving the spoil.50 Again when the Feinn were in straits, a giant-like being assisted them and proved to be a chief of the side, and in a tale from the Dindsenchas Sideng, daughter of Mongan of the sid, brought Fionn a flat stone with a golden chain, by means of which he slew three adversaries.51 Other magic things belonging to the Feinn were once the property of the gods. Manannan had a "crane-bag" made of a crane's skin, the bird being the goddess Aoife, transformed by a jealous rival; and in it he kept his treasures, though these were visible only when the tide was full. This bag became Cumhal's.52 Manannan's magic shield has already been described, and it also was later the property of Cumhal and Fionn.53 In the story of The Battle of Ventry {Cath Finntraga), at which the Tuatha De Danann helped the Feinn, weapons were sent to Fionn through Druidic sorcery from the sid of Tadg, son of Nuada, by Labraid Lamfhada, "the brother of thine own mother"; and these weapons shot forth balls of fire.54 Others were forged by a smith and his two brothers, Roc and the ocean-smith, who had only one leg and one eye.55 Whether these beings are borrowings from the Norse or supernatural creations of earlier Celtic myth is uncertain. Fionn had also a magic hood made in the Land of Promise, and of this hood it was said, "You will be hound, man, or deer, as you turn it, as you change it." 56

We now approach the most moving episode of the whole cycle— The Pursuit of Diarmaid and Grainne (Toruigheacht Dhiarmada agus Ghrainne), the subject of a long tale with many mythical allusions, of several ballads and folk-tales, and of numerous references in earlier Celtic literature. Only the briefest outline can be given here, but all who would know that literature at its best should read the story itself. Early accounts tell how Fionn, seeking to wed Grainne, had to perform tasks; but when he had accomplished these and married her, she eloped with Diarmaid.57 In the longer narrative, when Fionn and his friends came to ask Grainne's hand, she administered a sleeping-potion to all of them save Oisin and Diarmaid, both of whom she asked in succession to elope with her. They refused; but, madly in love with Diarmaid's beauty, she put geasa on him to flee with her. Thus he was forced to elope against his will, and when the disappointed suitor Fionn discovered this, he pursued them and came upon them in a wood, while in his sight Diarmaid kissed Grainne. At this point the god Oengus came to carry them off unseen, and when Diarmaid refused his help, Oengus took Grainne away, the hero himself escaping through his own cleverness. Having reached Oengus and Grainne, "whose heart all but fled out of her mouth with joy at meeting Diarmaid," he received advice from the god, who then left them. They still fled, with Fionn on their track, while the forces sent after them were overpowered by Diarmaid. For long he would not consent to treat Grainne as his wife, and only when he overheard her utter a curious reproach would he do so.58 From two warriors, whose fathers had helped in the battle against Cumhal, Fionn demanded as eric, or fine, either Diarmaid's head or a handful of berries from the quicken-tree of Dubhros; but when the warriors came to Diarmaid, he parleyed long with them and at last, as they were determined to fight him, he bound them both. Grainne, who was now with child, asked for these wonderful berries, whereupon Diarmaid slew their giant guardian and sent the warriors with the berries to Fionn. He and Grainne then climbed the tree; and when Fionn arrived, he offered great rewards to the man who would bring down Diarmaid's head. Oengus again appeared, and when nine of the Feinn climbed the tree and were slain, he gave each one Diarmaid's form and threw the bodies down, their true shape returning only when their heads were cut off. Oengus now

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